In Reading Color

New Releases: Amanda Gorman’s Poetry, Historical Korea, and a Nerdy Romance

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Book friends, how has December been treating you so far? I was speaking to my friend about how it doesn’t really feel like Christmas is in a few days (maybe because it’s a little hotter than usual where I am?), but here we are. I can’t complain, though! Especially as I’m not in a tornado stricken area. If any of you are, I hope you’re safe and doing well!

If you’re in need of any serotonin boosting internet things, here’s a great example of why the internet was created. People on here are seriously talented. The sync up and timing are unbelievable. Side note: Adele bopping’ along to Meg’s verses sent me.

As for books, I’ve got some varied and interesting new releases for you that I think you’ll like:

cover of Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim, featuring old illustration of a tiger

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

This is an interesting look at Korea during the Japanese occupation. It follows the lives of an unfortunate girl whose parents sold her to a brothel, and the poor son of a hunter, showing how their fates are intertwined. Jade, now living in a brothel, befriends JungHo, who is the leader of a group of homeless orphaned boys. As she matures, she comes into her own as a celebrated courtesan and curries favor with a man of noble birth. Her and some of the other girls she grew up with fall in and out of love with men from different social standings, as this novel takes us through mid-century Korean life.

cover of Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Rejoice! For Amanda Gorman has released her poetry collection debut! We all know Gorman from the presidential inauguration, but here we can get to know her more through poems that tackle our current social issues without giving way to despair. She covers everything from the effects of environmental neglect from past generations, to the consequences of devaluing Black lives, to social isolation. She even mixes up the structure of how some poems are presented as some appear as whales, text bubbles, and other shapes on the page.

cover of People from My Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami

People from My Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami, Translated by Ted Goossen

This is a collection of slice-of-life stories set in a small Japanese town with fabulist elements. The language is fittingly spare, managing a certain amount of unease as we’re taken through the town’s many oddities. There’s an elderly man who farms chickens and might go to chicken hell (lol), a bossy child who moves in with a woman that finds her under a white cloth, a schoolgirl who keeps doll brains in a drawer, and many other weird goings-on. The stories are odd and dark at times, but the collection overall still somehow manages to also be charming.

cover of the love con by seressia glass

The Love Con by Seressia Glass

Here’s an excellent fake-dating trope for the holidays! Kenya — an anime, cosplaying, and gaming queen— enters into a cosplaying reality show competition. She’s made it to the last round, but hits a snag as it’s a couples challenge, and she’s… single as can be (it’s hard out here, sis!). She enlists the help of her bestie and roommate, Cam, who has secretly had a crush on here since forever. You know where this is going, and you know it’ll be fun to get there. Bonus points for a Black and fat main character who relishes in many nerdy fandoms. 💜

Tell Me How to Be by Neel Patel

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuka Matsukawa, Translated by Louise Heal Kawai 

The Righteous by Renee Ahdieh

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino

What have y’all been reading lately? I just finished Raybearer a few days ago (if you’re wondering, it was 🔥), had to stop myself from devouring all of Saga, Book Two, and am finishing up The Tradition. What have you been into?

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

A fun Christmas quiz

Come get into these cookie books with me 🍪

Anne Rice passed away over the weekend. I remember how much my mother loved her books, and how I grew up with her as a result.

HBO and Channel 4 are teaming up for a Jamaican detective drama 👀

Some brilliant Asian retellings

Patricia Thang makes a good point on why retellings from marginalized groups are so important

Ever heard of Tijuana Bibles? They were basically smutty, funny underground comics in the U.S. that were circulated during the 1930s–50s.

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

See you next week!


In Reading Color

In Gifting Color

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I hope your holiday season has been treating you well so far. If you’re like me, you haven’t quite finished holiday shopping, but it’s all good because I got you! Below are some things I think will make great gifts, and what’s more, they’re all from Etsy shops that are run by people of color! Just make sure to make a purchase as soon as you see something you like because you know that time is flying.

black lives matter book pouch

I actually have this book pouch and it’s just as cute and conscious in person. It starts at $14, and at the time of writing this newsletter, there is a 20% off discount 👀.

bookmark with Black woman on one side and phases of the moon on the other

This bookmark is another thing that I’ve actually bought (and would buy again). I will say that it is just card stock, but if you want something thicker, the seller also has some bookmarks made of resin that are pretty and customizable. $4+

Two Indigenous children's games with an Indigenous doll in between them.

These kids’ games look super cute (and fun!) and feature beautiful Indigenous art. $9+

Toni Morrison mug

I don’t know who will turn down a mug, especially if it’s featuring my favorite author and play Auntie, Toni Morrison. $17+

This beautiful and Native made infinity scarf is perfect for the season! $21.

blind date with a book box

For this blind date with a book box, you can pick a genre and a mug design. It also comes with Mexican candies and a Chocolate Abuelita instant hot chocolate mix. $39

cafecito espresso creamed sugar scented candle

This candle smells like sweetened coffee, for the candle and coffee lover in your life. $20

framed picture of books by Asian authors

This print of books by Asian authors will look super cute on any wall! $15+

Japanese stationary

Although we live in an age of instant messages, I still love stationary and the idea of handwritten letters. This beautiful Japanese stationary is perfect for the person in your life who still likes to hand write things. $7

Black Panther movie pin

Gift the Black Panther fan (which might be yourself!) this pin of King T’Challa

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week


In Reading Color

More Native American Authors By Genre

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I wanted to close out the month with some more books by Native American authors, this time highlighting a few from specific genres/age categories. One thing I’ve noticed with some science fiction and fantasy books written by Native American authors is that a lot of them are dystopian, with themes of displacement, colonialism, and environmental destruction. It’s not surprising, but I’ve somehow just recently come to realize how close to home dystopian novels hit for people of color. Some of the plots could easily be mistaken for real life events.


cover of I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner

I Sang You Down from the Stars by  Tasha Spillett-Sumner, illustrated by Michaela Goade

While making manifest her love for her future child, a mother gathers gifts—of sage and white feathers— to make a sacred bundle. I Sang You Down From the Stars is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that is as much an ode to the bond between mother and child as it is a tribute to Native American culture.

Young Adult

cover of the marrow thieves

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In the future The Marrow Thieves paints, white people are hunting down Native Americans to harvest them for their bone marrow. The marrow is thought to be the key to returning dreams to the dreamless in a world that has been ravaged by global warming and all its trappings. Now, people indigenous to North America live on the run in order to avoid becoming unwilling sacrifices to cure white people of their ills by way of being sent to “schools,” which are similar to the Indian schools that existed in North America. The schools in the book seek to extract a component essential to their living in the form of bone marrow, while the schools in real life were meant to harness another thing essential to them: their identity.


cover of Taking on the Billionaire by Robin Covington

Taking on the Billionaire by Robin Covington

Adam Redhawk reenlists the investigator that helped him find his Cherokee family. The task Adam requires of Tess Lynch this time is to help him find exactly who seeks his business’s downfall. Tess, meanwhile, has stakes in this all her own, and is seeking revenge against his adoptive father. And, obviously, things get super steamy.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!


cover of heartberries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

When we’re first introduced to Mailhot, she’s writing in the notebook given to her during her stay in a psychiatric hospital while being treated for PTSD and bipolar II disorder. Her words weave connecting threads through all facets of her life: her upbringing on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest, a teenage marriage and subsequent loss of custody of her first son, disastrous relationships with men, and traumatic memories and the imagination that tries to shield her from them. Mailhot’s writing is poetic, raw, urgent, and hums with the traditional storytelling of her mountain women ancestors. This short memoir packs a wallop, let me tell you.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

cover of Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Isolated from the outside world as a result of a winter storm, a small Anishinaabe community in the north starts to panic. Supplies diminish as leaders struggle to maintain order amidst the chaos. When someone new to town shows up unexpectedly, he is given shelter despite the community’s meager offerings. The man has come from south of the community where the world has been falling apart. Soon, more like him arrive and start to manipulate people’s emotions. In order to overcome this, some in the Anishinaabe community realize they must return to the old ways to confront present day issues.


Winter Counts cover image

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

The American justice systems isn’t exactly just. Neither is the tribal council, which is where Virgil Wounded Horse comes in. He’s an enforcer for the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota and metes out retribution as he’s paid to. When his nephew becomes involved with the newly arrived heroin problem, Virgil sets out with his ex-girlfriend to put a stop to it. The investigation leads them to drug cartels, new tribal initiatives, and a realization Virgil has about his heritage and identity.

A Little Sumn Extra

Good news! We’re hiring for an Advertising Sales Manager. Do you like books and comics? Does helping advertisers reach an enthusiastic community of book and comics lovers intrigue you? This might be your job. Apply by December 5, 2021

School Police Have Black Lives Matter Posters Censored, Students Protest

An interesting read on two seemingly unrelated topics: books about dinosaurs and religion

How becoming a penpal can help incarcerated people

A quiz that tests if you’re pronouncing authors’ names correctly

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week


In Reading Color

More on Award Season: The National Book Awards

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I had a nice conversation with a couple college girlfriends of mine this past weekend that was super lovely. I didn’t know that it was just what I needed, but it was. I had met them when they were doing a domestic exchange program at NYU from their respective HBCU’s (Xavier and Spelman). I also ordered a couple books— Raybearer and one of the winners of the National Book Award winners mentioned below, Winter and Sokcho. Between those two things, I’ve had a restorative few days.

Speaking of the National Book Awards, here are some more award-winning selections. First of all, all of the award winners were of color, which is amazing! I don’t know if it’s the increased respect of authors of color, or that more authors of color are being published—or maybe a combination of the two?— but it’s worthy of celebration, either way.

National Book Award Winners


cover of Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Hell of a Book juxtaposes the story of a Black author traveling across the country to promote his best-selling novel with that of a Black boy living in the past in a rural area. Then there’s also The Kid, who may be imaginary. The question of who was killed in a police shooting is raised by a news story that continuously runs on the matter, and all of the characters’ stories eventually converge in this novel on family, art, and tragedy.


book cover all that she carried by tiya miles

All That She Carried by Tiya Miles

I’ve seen the cotton bag this book is birthed from during one of my many trips to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. Within this sack, given by an enslaved women to her nine-year old daughter before she was sent to the auction block, lies generations of Black women’s hopes, fears, and love for their daughters. After Rose passed it to her daughter Ashley in 1852 in South Carolina, it eventually wound up being in the hands of Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth, who embroidered it with its own history: “a tattered dress 3 handfulls of pecans a braid of Roses hair;” “filled my Love always.” With All That She Carried, Miles breathes life into the countless untold stories of Black enslaved women throughout America’s history.

Translated Literature

cover of Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

A young half Korean, half French woman is tending to the slightly unkempt guesthouse in Sokcho, Korea during the winter when a Frenchman comes in. She’s drawn to the middle-aged man who shares the same heritage as the father she never knew. It turns out he’s an internationally known cartoonist, and looking for inspiration in Sokcho’s drab winter climate. The two form a tentative relationship as she takes him around so that he many have an “authentic” Korean experience, hopefully finding inspiration along the way. The city comes alive as the story tells of the young woman’s daily life in vignettes, and avoids the cliché of the traveling European becoming a savior or lover to the intrigued young woman. Dusapin’s writing has been likened to Marguerite Duras.

Young People’s Literature

Last night at the Telegraph Club cover

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

The Red Scare that hung over America in 1954 threatens to take seventeen-year-old Lily Hu’s father from her, as well as many other people in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Just as this is happening, Lily is exploring a question she has been wondering about whether two girls can fall in love. She finds an answer in Kath, a white American girl, who she sneaks with to the Telegraph Club, a place for queer women to be themselves. The club is not without its flaws, though, as Lily experiences micro aggressions from some of the queer woman as a result of her Chinese heritage. Lo expertly examines the intersectional life of a nonwhite queer girl in this historical novel.


cover of Floaters by Martín Espada

Floaters by Martín Espada

Espada draws from his experiences of being a lawyer, an activist, and a person of Puerto Rican descent and transmutes them into verse that explores the anti-immigration ideology as well as Latinx racism in Floaters. The titular poem, even, is an excellent example of the dehumanization that often takes place when immigrants are discussed, as it callously refers to migrants who drown trying to cross the border (specifically the Salvadoran father and daughter, Óscar and Valeria who drowned in 2019; the article has graphic images, so please be warned). Espada’s poems range from the personal to the epic, with calls for love sang out by tortoises, no less.

For more on the National Book Award— including the finalists.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

More on awards: The six shortlist titles for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

Good news! We’re hiring for an Advertising Sales Manager. Do you like books and comics? Does helping advertisers reach an enthusiastic community of book and comics lovers intrigue you? This might be your job. Apply by December 5, 2021

Kelly Rowland Will Release a Picture Book in 2022

More on censorship news from Kelly Jensen

Danika Ellis tells of how the Texas book ban could cost the school district millions of dollars

Here’s a great, brief history of Gabriel García Márquez’s life by Sarah Rahman

Dee Das discusses how immigrant literature is dismantling white feminism

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week


In Reading Color

New Releases: The 1619 Project, Nigerian Cyborgs, a half Korean journalist, and more!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I’m not sure how it is where you are, but here on the east coast, I was minding my business when the cold weather just came out one day ready to fight! It turned from being crisp and cozy to what New Yorkers call “brick.” As I bundle up something fierce, here are a few new releases with some pretty meaty topics to look out for:

cover of The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

This retells America’s beginnings in a more honest and well-rounded way by centering perhaps the most defining aspect of it: chattel slavery. By looking at U.S. history from that focal point, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story expands on the award-winning efforts of the 1619 Project‘s depiction of American democracy being rooted in the enslavement of Black people. It does so through eighteen essays and thirty-six poems and works of fiction. Hannah-Jones’s lead essay from the original project won a Pulitzer.The reaction to the original project has been so strong that Sen. Tom Cotton, one of its detractors, has fought to keep it from being taught in schools.

cover of Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

One of the reigning queens of Africanfuturism, Okorafor is back with a tale of Nigerian cyborgs and herdsmen. Even since before birth, AO has been considered abnormal. A car accident further saw to her otherness, as it required major body augmentations that would make her a target one fateful day in the market. There, she’s forced to kill five men in self-defense. Now she’s on the run. She comes across a Fulani herdsman who was similarly unfairly accosted, and the two set out together to find a secret community where they will be free from persecution. Familiar elements—like mentions of Greta Thunberg and other well-known people— keep the reader tethered to our world while reimagining an alternative one in this novel that serves as a critique of capitalism and what defines otherness.

cover of O Beautiful by Jung Yun

O Beautiful by Jung Yun

Elinor Hanson, a half Korean and white journalist and former model, finds she must return home to North Dakota. In efforts to reinvent herself, she takes on a story from a prestigious magazine covering an oil boom that was recommended to her by an old professor. As she unearths details for the story, so too does she unearth uneasy old feelings of ostracization, objectification, and a general lack of belonging. Meanwhile, back in New York, there is a case being made against her old professor and Elinor’s classmates ask if the relationship she had with him was consensual.

cover of New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan

New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan

Ekong Udousoro is a Nigerian book editor who has just won a Toni Morrison Publishing Fellowship, and is on his way to New York City to learn about the publishing world from one of its capitals. Once there, he is set to edit an anthology of writers of color who were affected by the Nigerian Biafran War of the ’60s. When he actually arrives, he finds a shabby living arrangement, bed bugs, callousness in the form of agents and landlords, and other unsavory NYC drawbacks. Akpan draws a parallel between the tribalism that resulted in the war back home and the tribalism by another name that plagues New York City, sowing discord among its inhabitants. Despite all of this, Akpan still manages to weave in hopefulness, tenderness, and humor in this satirical novel.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Don’t forget to check out our new podcast Adaptation Nation if you haven’t already! The first episode is out already and covers the adaption of Dune.

A fun RuPaul’s Drag race quiz for ya

A great introduction to romance writer Jackie Lau for those who aren’t familiar

The best books to give as gifts this year

An interesting look at what’s popular in public libraries

Jesse Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties, has just signed a five book contract!

Author of All Boys Aren’t Blue talks about their book being removed from libraries

Looking to sample an author without committing to an entire novel? This list of free short stories is sure to help. All of these authors are great, and a few of them are of color! A few included here are: Malindo Lo, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Rivers Solomon, P. Djèlí Clark, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, and more!

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with our new co-host Tirzah Price, as Kelly has retired after five years (!), as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week


In Reading Color

Indigenous Authors to Get Into

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Newsletter friends! I hope this past week found you well! I have good news to share, myself. Occasionally, I instruct an SAT prep course through a public library in Jersey City, the latest one having just ended in September. It’s offered free to students, and my classes are always teens of color who wouldn’t have access to prep courses otherwise. Well, a couple days ago, one of my students from the course reached out to me to tell me she had scored in the 90th percentile! I’m beyond proud. Teaching the course was yet another reminder of the importance of representation and access to resources.

Speaking of representation, November is Native American Heritage month (!!), so I’ll be shining a brighter light on authors indigenous to America in this newsletter. These authors breathe life into the people who walked this land before us (for those of us in North America), using traditional storytelling to flesh out narratives that have been all but erased.

cover of Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith

This collection of eighteen contemporary and intersecting stories of tribal life is told from the perspective of young protagonists. It features tales from the Ojibwe, Cherokee, Cree, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo, and Abenaki nations, as well as others. Well-known and newer authors shine here in these stories of resilience, humor, and honoring the past.

A Snake Falls To Earth cover

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

Little Badger writes from the perspectives of an asexual Lipan Apache teen girl— similar to her novel Elatsoe— and a cottonmouth snake teen from the spirit world in her second YA novel. The two teens’ worlds collide after a catastrophic event on earth. Lipan Apache storytelling is woven around tales of environmental destruction in this coming-of-age story.

Here’s an interview with the author.

cover of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

This often funny novel is out today and follows Ojibwe woman Tookie as she starts to get settled into her new life outside of prison. Having found solace in books during her sentence, Tookie still looks to books on the outside and finds herself working at the independently and Indigenous owned books store, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. When the bookstore’s most annoying customer Flora dies with a book open next to her, not having had enough time to properly mark her place, no doubt, she continues to peruse the bookstore aisles as a ghost. In addition to Flora’s ghost, the characters throughout are haunted by George Floyd’s murder (especially as it happened in Minneapolis) and COVID. This novel sees to it that America has a reckoning with its ghosts, which were born of its violent past and present.

The bookstore setting is based on Erdrich’s actual bookstore Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. I bought Elatsoe online from them for the Insiders’ group read and received it very quickly if you’re looking to support an Indigenous owned bookstore.

cover The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

This recently won the 2021 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. It follows four young Blackfeet men after their indiscretion of hunting elk on forbidden elders’ land. Unfortunately for them, one elk is unusually hard to kill and they find themselves changing roles from predator to prey. With this novel, Jones offers an exploration of generational trauma and justice.

A Little Sumn Extra

cover of Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse’s follow up to Black Sun, Fevered Star, is set to be released in April 2022. The cover is absolutely s t u n n i n g.

Deepa Mehta is set to direct an adaption of Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi.

Billy Porter To Direct ‘Camp’ For HBO Max And Warner Bros.

This post by Sarah Rahman gives an overview of Poet Laureates in the U.S. Joy Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate, is mentioned here.

Kelly Jensen gives us the rundown on censorship news this week.

Danika Ellis dissects Matt Krause’s foolishness.

Danika, again, but with a palette cleanser in the form of some good bookish news, leading with how characters of color in U.K. kids’ books have quadrupled in the last four years.

One more palette cleanser: find out which 90s witch you are for a book recommendation

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week,


In Reading Color

Award-Winning Books: The Kirkus Prize

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

We’ve got a new podcast called Adaptation Nation, which will be all about TV and film adaptations of your favorite books! The first episode will feature Jeff, co-host of the Book Riot podcast, and Amanda and Jenn, hosts of Get Booked, breaking down the sci-fi classic Dune and the new adaptation. Subscribe on your podcatcher of choice!

Now, let’s get into some award-winning and nominated books! Since joining Book Riot, I’ve been paying a little more attention to book awards. I was always aware of them before, of course, and would even choose books to add to my TBR based on certain awards they had won. I just didn’t necessarily know a lot about what went into choosing the winners, what the winners were awarded (apart from the award itself, of course), and things like that. For instance, the Kirkus Prize winners were just announced, and although I like reading the Kirkus Reviews, I just learned that their awards grant the winners $50,000 each. I gotta admit, reading that made my eyes pop out of my head like the wolf eyes used to do in cartoons when they would see a lady they liked (lol). What’s more, there were a great number of winners and finalists that were people of color!

A little more about the award. As this is In Reading Color, I’ll focus on the authors of color, but offer my congrats to all the finalists and winners!

There were three categories of books judged— fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature— and two of them were won by authors of color. Now let’s get into them!

Nonfiction Winner

Punch Me Up to the Gods a memoir

Punch Me Up to the Gods Brian Broome

Phew. This one, y’all. Let me tell you. Broome structures his upbringing in Ohio as a Black, gay kid to an abusive father who used to hit him like he “was a grown-ass man” around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool.” There were so many places that rejected him for him being who he was, whether it was because of his race or sexuality. When he gets older, he self-soothes through sex and drug use, to (foreseeably) disastrous results. These are heavy topics, but there is at least some dark humor strewn throughout this searing debut.

Nonfiction Finalists of Color

Young Readers’ Literature Prize Winner

cover of All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

All the Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

This is the first nonfiction book in the Kirkus Prize’s eight year history to win in the young readers’ category. June 23, 2018 saw the young players of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach become trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. This is the meticulously researched account of their survival and rescue. Soontornvat was visiting family in Thailand when news outlets began covering the seventeen-day rescue that involved people from around the world. First-hand accounts from the rescue workers, color photos, details of the engineering required for rescue, as well as aspects of the region’s culture and religion all combine to tell an amazing story of endurance and the human spirit.

Young Readers’ Literature Finalists of Color

Fiction Finalists of Color

A Little Sumn Extra

Speaking of award winners, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s book Afterlives will be coming to American bookshelves in 2022. Gurnah recently became the first Black Nobel laureate for literature since Toni Morrison in 1993. If you’re wondering why you may not see his books around much, the New York Times wondered the same thing.

cover of re-release of Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Silvia Moreno Garcia’s debut novel Signal to Noise about “1980s teens casting spells with vinyl records” is getting a makeover.

The Well Read Black Girl Festival is underway! Check out the virtual presentations here.

Book Riot’s own Erika Harrison talks Hoodoo in celebration of October being Black Speculative Month

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week,


In Reading Color

A Different Kind of Murder Mystery

Welcome back to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Before we get to the books, here’s a little reminder that this is the last week to get a hold of the limited edition Book Riot anniversary gear. There’s a hoodie with the Book Riot logo that is a particularly nice shade of gold, just in case you were wondering.

I’ve mentioned before in another newsletter I write *cough* In the Club *cough* about how science fiction and fantasy (sff) have been foretelling society’s inventions and wrestling with societal ills since forever. Now, I’d like to add to that list of duties: carrier of culture. By that, I mean that some sff that is written by authors of color infuses elements from their native folklore, mythology, or religion, thereby becoming a vessel through which that culture can be shown to and experienced by the reader. The increase in authors of color publishing sff has shown just how many different perspectives and new ideas— things that are so central to sff — we’ve been missing out on.

The books mentioned below combine my adoration of sff with my other love of a good murder mystery. I realized that, although it may be a bit niche, I love a whodunit that has some magical or futuristic elements. I think you will, too.

Elatsoe book cover

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe, or Ellie, is a high school Lipan Apache girl that lives in an America similar to our own. The only difference is that it has been molded by the monsters, spirits, and magic of Indigenous as well as other cultures. Courtesy of her maternal ancestors, Ellie has the ability to raise the ghosts of dead animals. One day, her ghost dog Kirby warns her of danger. She finds out her cousin has been in an accident and is in critical condition. He passes away in the night. She was told he was in a car accident, but before he fully passes into the spirit world, he visits Ellie in a dream to tell her that he was murdered. He begs her to protect his family from the man that murdered him, a man that lives in the mysterious town of Willowbee. Ellie travels down to Texas to find out what really happened to her cousin.

Side note: I’m actually in the process of reading this for our quarterly group reads book club alongside members of our Insiders’ program.

cover of Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

After carrying sleeping passengers for ten years— a necessity for having traveled light years— colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system. As its first mate Shell Campion awakens, she finds things have gone horribly wrong. For one, the A.I. that was meant to be running the ship is running ragged, secondly, and most importantly, people have been murdered. She contacts investigator Rasheed Fin and his artificial partner to figure out what’s happened. The only issue is that she’s a main suspect, and the one that’s been sabotaging the ship and causing deaths is still aboard.

cover of Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

Vân, a poor scholar, and Sunless Woods, a mindship that just so happens to be a master of disguise, previously only knew each other from Vân’s poetry club. When a dead body is found in the room of one of Vân’s students, the two work together to find the culprit. The journey takes them from teahouses to ascetic havens, and even uncovers secrets they’d prefer stayed hidden.

This is another novella in which De Bodard deftly guides us through the Xuya Universe, a fully imagined and unique world. It, like the others, is part space opera and part mystery, and peppered with details from Vietnamese and Chinese culture. Also, the covers for these are beautiful!

cover of The Good House by Tananarive Due

The Good House by Tananarive Due

TW: self harm

The Good House was built by a pharmacist in 1907, and passed on to Marie Toussaint, a beloved Creole herbalist and Angela Toussaint’s grandmother. Despite its name, the Good House has seen many tragedies. Firstly, Angela’s mother took her own life when Angela was still a child. Years later, after divorcing his father Tariq, her son Corey also commits suicide with his father’s gun. Years later, as Angela tries to repair her legal practice, she goes back to Sacajawea, Washington where the Good House is to confront her ghosts and demons and find out why there has been so much concentrated tragedy there. Keep in mind that this definitely leans towards horror, like some of Due’s other works.

Due’s The Between was chosen for Emma Roberts’ Belletrist book club pick earlier this month.

A Little Sumn Extra

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,


In Reading Color

Orange is the New Book Club, Rare Books, and more!

Welcome back fellow readers in color! If you’re new here, In Reading Color is a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I’m writing to you from the crispest of fall temperatures. My city has decided to accommodate my perfect idea of autumn, and the past couple of days have been mid to low 60s. All of this means I was able to bust out my lil cardigans and whatnot that I’ve been saving, and I’m now walking around cute n cozy.

Before we get into some news, updates, and new releases, how has the change of season been treating you?

Now, let’s get started!

Solange Knowles  in When I Get Home album cover photo

In celebration of Solange’s Free Library of Rare, out-of-print books by Black authors, let’s revisit her 2019 album When I Get Home, which is still the ethereal bop it was when it first came out. There hasn’t been any other album I’ve been able to listen to lately from start to finish straight through as I have Solange’s. Almeda is a standout. Please have a listen if you haven’t already.

The adaption for Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin’s book Fever Dream is out now.  Also, Netflix is starting a book club that will feature books the streaming service has adapted. The selections will be curated by Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black (but more like Orange is Uzo Aduba’s Color, amirite?). Uzo will sit with the author and speak about the connection between the original book and the adaption. All together, it seems like a pretty unique and interesting concept. Passing by Nella Larsen will be the first discussed, as the release of Netflix’s adaption with air on November 10th.

The Frangipani Tree Mystery cover image

In more adaption news, Singaporean writer Ovidia Yu’s Frangipani Tree Mystery series is being adapted for TV. It takes place in 1936 in Singapore amidst political uncertainty. In a bid to escape an arranged marriage, Su Lin takes the place of a slain Irish nanny in the house of the acting governor of Singapore. When another murder takes place in the governor’s house, Su Lin puts her journalism experience to use to aid British Chief Inspector LeFroy in solving the case.

DC is developing an animated movie based on Black-centered comics from its Milestone imprint. “Milestone launched in 1993 with the intention of creating more mainstream Black superheroes, featuring a group of characters from the fictional city of Dakota whose identities and backgrounds were central to their power.”

Some New Releases

cover of Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli— a romance about an über practical data analyst who explores her Indian roots, and her more impulsive, passionate side. Eow!

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall— a YA graphic novel with a lesbian and Asian main character who gets caught up with the popular girls in high school…who also happen to be werewolves.

Sankofa by Chinudu Onuzo— Reese’s Book Club pick for October. This follows Anna after her mother dies as she traces her roots back to a father she never knew, who also happened to be the president of a small country in West Africa.

A Little Sumn Extra

The book bans aren’t letting up. Now, Toni Morrison books are being requested to be banned by Virginia Beach School Board Member

Kelly Jensen has more on the latest book challenges.

K.W. Collard gives us an extensive list of the greatest science fiction through the ages.

Leah Asmelash reports for CNN on poetry’s modern resurgence, with poets of color leading the charge

Keke Palmer and Jasmine Guillory are collaborating on a story collection

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,


In Reading Color

Darkness in Academia

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Before we get into our books, please head over here to get some limited edition merchandise celebrating our 10th anniversary! *blaring horn noises*

Ok, now on to today’s topic!

The United States as a concept is an interesting one. From its inception, it has been touted as a place where only merit mattered in terms of individual success. For a self-described meritocracy, the socioeconomic status is fairly predetermined in the U.S, though, especially for people of color. This is due, in part, to the inability to build generational wealth. The road blocks to building wealth for generations are varied, but among them is the discrimination that exists within education and health care—fields that are, perhaps ironically, known to have people who are educated.

These books detail how academia, the domain of the educated, is not exempt from displaying the same levels of racism and sexism as any other institution in the west. And how, in fact, it often does its part to help reinforce systems of oppression.

The Patriarchy and Academia

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

Michele Harper details her experiences starting anew as a freshly divorced Black female ER doctor in a new city. She sees how systematic oppression manifests within the medical field and how it translates to a lack of patient care. What she witnesses also helps her to come to grips with her family’s history of domestic violence— despite their social standing in Washington, D.C.— and shows her just how much social change is necessary.

cover of Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain by Clelia O. Rodríguez

Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain by Clelia O. Rodríguez 

“You do not get to speak about our pain, claiming authorship over what we go through…”

From being made to doubt our capabilities to not being given the space to speak on our experiences, Rodríguez details the ways academia is a hostile environment for people of color, especially women. She offers up this survival guide, suggesting artistic expression — in the form of poetry, art, and more— as part of the resistance against the academia’s inherent white patriarchal structure.

book cover of The disordered Cosmos by Chandra Prescod-Weinstein

The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Prescod-Weinstein describes how the classroom is a microcosm of society at large, complete with all of its the racism and sexism. As a renowned physicist and one of fewer than one hundred Black women to earn a PhD from a physics department, she makes the case of how racism, sexism, and science are inexorably linked to colonialism. Her love of physics and Star Trek shine through as she details a plan for a new, inclusive way for the field of science to operate.

image of Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

This is known to be the first and only history detailing how the medical profession has abused Black people since the beginning of this country. Washington starts with slavery, and how slave owners would hire out or sell enslaved people to be medical test subjects, continues with how Black graves were often robbed in search of cadavers for medical students, and also includes the infamous Tuskegee experiment that saw 600 Black men purposefully left diseased.

Through Medical Apartheid, we see the foundations of the distrust that Black Americans have for the medical establishment that exists in many till this day. We also see the history of how the medical field has come to devalue its Black patients, with disastrous results.

Although many of these books focus on Black people, the identification of Black people as The Other is what makes it acceptable for us to be abused.This ease with which others are mistreated makes it easier to continue maltreatment when more groups are identified as being outside of the dominant group. In other words, the abuse of one group affects everyone.

A Little Sumn Extra

Disney+ Greenlights ‘American Born Chinese’ Series From Melvin Mar, Kelvin Yu & Jake Kasdan

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose work includes Afterlives and Paradise.

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride and other trailblazing women will be featured on U.S. coins

Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez has won the Gish Prize

Lawyer, poet and recent MacArthur genius grant recipientReginald Dwayne Betts talks about his initiative Freedom Reads, which offers inmates access to books across the US

Thanks for reading; it’s been nice! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,